Monday, March 29, 2010

Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami

This is a wonderful, even extraordinary book. But, it is not for everyone. For example, I considered a plot synopsis, but immediately realized how difficult it would be.

This marvelous, interesting novel of deep complexity and texture also includes a man who speaks with cats, multiple dimensions (or not). If that sounds problematic to you, avoid this book.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bankok Haunts, by John Burdett

This is another great novel featuring Thai police detective, "papasan," and devout Buddhist Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Not as great as his prior book, but I still stayed up way to late to finish reading it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

When China Rules the World, by Martin Jacques

This is a flawed book, but still worth reading. The chapter on Japan seems to not fit, the brevity and lack of clarity in the final discussion on what a China -dominant world implies, and some other nits.

China's economic growth is, of course, a key factor, and Jacques argues that there's an accompanying cultural implication to the world stage -- but the absence of an interesting discussion about the implications of this are one of the weaknesses of his book.

Bottom line: read it anyway.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bankok Tattoo, by John Burdett

This is outstanding fiction. It is narrated by police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, who is also the papa-san of his mother's bar / prostitution business, and a devout Buddhist.

Seem complex? It is absolutely lovely.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Fifth Profession, by David Morrell

The writing is good. The plot interesting except for the key elements which stretch credibility so far as to break.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Break Neck, by Erica Spindler

The hero is MC (Mary Catherine), a homicide detective, whose partner is Kitt Lundgren. It isn't a bad detective book, although the details of how the computer crime (theft of $500,000 leading to murders) occurred was completely unaddressed.

Then again, you may have noticed from the prior book comments on this day, I've been pretty dissatisfied, so maybe it doesn't take much to make it all the way up to "okay."

Beautiful Lies, by Lisa Unger

Quote from Publishers Weekly: "After an act of heroism garners instant fame for 30-something New York freelancer Ridley Jones, she receives a faded photo of a man, a familiar-looking woman and a little girl along with a note asking, "Are you my daughter?" Shaken, she confronts her parents, who affirm she is theirs by birth; that same day, however, hot new neighbor Jake enters her life, and he's less sure. With breathless speed, Unger is off on an action-packed journey of treachery and intrigue..."

Now, my summary: unreadable trash.

Killer Heat, by Linda Fairstein

The hero is Alex Cooper, "Coop," a Manhattan ADA who prosecutes sex crimes.

Speaking of which, the writing is a crime.

Dialog: unlikely. Plot: stretch.

Overall: this made my flight feel longer.

Illuminated, by Matt Bronleewe

The hero is an unlikeable failure of a husband and father named August. He trades old books. In this Da Vinci Code clone the events are even less believable than in Dan Brown's writing.

In two words: ridiculous, horrid.

Jian, by Eric van Lustbader

Overly complex and generally unsatisfying, even on a long flight.

The hero is Jake, an agent for a secret US government agency. His counterpart is Nichiren, his sworn enemy. There's a complicated Russian side story, and an even more convoluted Chinese spy story. Amazingly, they all intersect at the end (assuming you're desperate enough for something to read that you make it that far).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Made by Hand: Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop, by Tom Fidgen

This is a very enjoyable look at using hand tools for furniture making. It isn't the most complete instructional guide, it doesn't provide the best design templates for constructing the projects. But is has good photos, and most importantly, a good tone about it -- the author is genuinely likable and represents the hand woodworker well.